Several weeks before our trip to Florence and Rome, I was in Anderson's Bookstore in Downers Grove to look at the travel books. Walking past the fiction shelves, I spotted an inexpensive edition of A Room with a View by E. M. Forster. It was light and would take little room in my backpack. I bought it to read in Florence where the story opens and ends.
I read the novel in 2004 and have seen the faithfully adapted film by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory several times, so I knew it would be a quick read. It still took me most of a week as we were busy visiting museums, churches, and historical sites all day and going out to eat at night. In the hotel, I wrote up the daily journal while Bonnie double checked all of the next day's touring. It was late by the time I settled into bed with the book, occasionally giving Bonnie updates, such as "They are looking at the Giottos," "Miss Honeychurch just witnessed the fight by the Loggia," or "The boys are running naked in the woods."
As I read, I saw scenes from the film in my head. Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Simon Callow were the characters. Much was familiar and a pleasure to read again. I was struck on this reading how big a role is played by the Reverend Mr. Beebe. He always seems to be present at key points, providing advice or observations. He is a mixture of sage and buffoon tilted toward the sage end of the scale.
We were in Rome by the time I finished the book, but a piece of Florence had come along. Now Florence can be found on our bookshelves in A Room with a View and the books we brought home from Italy. More about them next week.
Forster, E. M. A Room with a View. Bantam Classic, 2007. ISBN 9780553213232.